Serving peace: Raindrop Foundation hosts Ramadan dinner to promote understanding and harmony 

click to enlarge The next Raindrop Turkish House Community Ramadan Dinner is June 13. (Raindrop Turkish House / provided)
  • Raindrop Turkish House / provided
  • The next Raindrop Turkish House Community Ramadan Dinner is June 13.

“Muslims cannot be terrorists, and terrorists cannot be Muslims.”

A. Kadir Akkus, executive director of Raindrop Turkish Foundation, feels that many people don’t realize this important distinction. The foundation aims to dispel misconceptions that are often attached to Muslim faith and traditions by bridging knowledge gaps in the community through outreach, education and events.

“If you don’t have knowledge about other religions or have never met a Muslim and you only get information from the news and television, there can be misunderstandings,” Akkus said. “It’s important to get to know each other, learn from one another.”

In the current political climate, an open dialogue is especially important, as facts are replaced by “news” and new policies in the United States target individuals from Muslim-dominant countries, such as Turkey.

“During this globalized time, we see a lot of clashes between people of different religions and cultures,” he said. “Our foundation promotes mutual understanding, cooperation, respect and tolerance among diverse faiths and cultures. We do this by creating opportunities for shared experience, to bring people from different backgrounds to the same table.”

That table is often the site of a shared meal, which is especially significant during the holy month of Ramadan.

“In our tradition in Turkey, also our religious tradition, it’s important to share your food with friends, even people you don’t know,” he said. “During Ramadan, we fast for 30 days, meaning we don’t eat or drink during daylight hours. During the summer, this means 18 hours without anything, which allows us to focus on how hunger feels, to understand better those without food. How important is something as simple a bottle of water or a piece of bread? We reflect on that.”

Ramadan is a time for spiritual self-reflection, but it is also a time of reaching out and showing kindness and hospitality to improve relationships with those in your community. A key element of Ramadan is breaking your fast by inviting family, friends, neighbors, believers and nonbelievers to share your meal. It is thought that doing so during Ramadan increases your blessing.

“Most people may not know that, besides fasting, Ramadan is a month of sharing and generosity. It is our obligation,” Akkus said. “During Ramadan, my wife and I host many dinners at our home — maybe 20 or so during the month. Most of our guests are non-Muslim people.”

Raindrop Turkish House is extending the same warm invitation to the community by hosting Community Ramadan Dinners. The next one is June 13. Anyone may attend, and they are free to the public. The event begins at 8 p.m. with a presentation about Ramadan. It’s a great opportunity for guests to ask questions about Muslim traditions and beliefs.

“Anyone is invited who wants to share this atmosphere with us, and it is a great chance to learn more about each other,” Akkus said. “We have a lot more commonalities and just a few differences. We need to focus less on the differences.”

The dinner itself will begin at sunset — around 9 p.m. Akkus’ wife Miriam described what guests can expect when breaking fast at a Ramadan dinner.

“Dates are an important part of Ramadan dinners,” she said. “Most people break their fast by eating dates, so we will have that because it is traditional. The date is also very specific to the culture because of their [geographic] origin.”

The next course is typically a lentil soup.

“All day, you are not eating, so you want to start with something liquid and soft,” Miriam said. “Lentil soup is very important, and everyone really likes it. Then, after that, you can start eating more.”

In addition to seasonal green salads, the main courses will likely be a beef stew or the very popular doner kebab. A mixture of beef and some lamb, doner is described as less spicy and lighter than a typical gyro, which allows the flavor of the meat to really come through.

Various Turkish pastries are also prepared, but flaky and sweet baklava is always on the menu for dessert.

About half a dozen volunteers prepare this free dinner for anywhere from 80 to 100 guests; reservations are required.

Raindrop also shares its Ramadan dinners at other churches, like Temple B’nai Israel. The interdisciplinary element is at the heart of Raindrop’s purpose.

“At the temple, they will also share their beliefs and their church with us. People from our community can ask questions about their faith,” Akkus said. “I still have a lot to learn about their faith even though our texts share so many stories, like that of Cain and Abel or The Virgin Mary.”

The foundation hosts many events that promote open, face-to-face discourse at its own facility, but it also has partnerships with local colleges, where participants explore issues through art projects or panel discussions.

“All over the world, there has been racism and discrimination, and there’s an especially high level of those things during this time,” Akkus said. “With our events and panel discussions, we bring together speakers and experts from the three Abrahamic traditions — Muslim, Jewish, Christian — to come share their views and perspectives on things like the refugee crisis. Our goal is to show how important it is to live together in peace and harmony and find solutions to address that.”

The Community Ramadan Dinners starts 7:45 p.m. June 13 at Raindrop Turkish House, 4444 N. Classen Blvd. Visit, Raindrop Turkish House Oklahoma City’s Facebook page or

Print Headline: Serving peace: Raindrop Foundation hosts Ramadan dinner to promote understanding and harmony in OKC. 

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